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When creating art education programs beyond school walls it is important to be able to read your audience. Art beyond school walls can be a number of different things. Depending on your location the identity of the program and purpose vary. Art education programs can provide a number of different services. It is important to accommodate the needs of participants in the program to ensure that the program is successful. Studies have shown that art education programs in schools stand alone as being important but what art education programs offered outside of school are important because they offer experiences and that students would most likely not experience in a regular school setting.
Art education programs can turn learners into leaders. Arts All Day would agree to state ‘Our experience tells us that in school and out of school arts’ learning transforms students in different ways.'(Green and Kindseth,2011,p.339). When students can connect to their community they are more likely to be a part of a change.
In a world where schools are data-driven and teach to the test, other art programs feel that letting students create connections for themselves that are special and meaningful to them is what is in the best interest of the child and the community. Art All Day states that ‘their programs feel qualitative data lacks the ability to describe the powerful transformation.’ (Green and Kindseth,2011,p.339). In the article Students Constructed Narratives in After School Arts Projects, they felt that ‘after school projects offer diverse and more open-ended context for each student to construct new meaning through free choice learning in their lives.
'(Hsieh,2012.p.48). When creating art in a school setting you can only allow for so much free choice and openness to context due to state standards and school policies. When you are creating art in outside programs there are fewer constraints because the rule, policies, audiences, and purposes can change. ‘unfettered by the demands and constraints of school administrators these self-designed centers have been considered interest to art education researchers for over the last twenty years.'(Davis,2019,p.85).
I myself have a strong belief that art and art education beyond the school walls is beneficial to the community and creator for a number of different reasons. For me just creating and making is a part of my everyday life, as long as I can remember I was making art. I was lucky enough to attend schools that offered AP art classes. Out of all my experiences in art form elementary up thru college, the projects that stuck with me are projects that were outside the school. When I was in elementary we painted a mural on the wall outside of the school that parents parked along while waiting to pick up students. Middle school we painted a mural of the wood mill in town on a concrete wall near the mill entrance. In High School, we would go to the corner drug store that changed with the seasons. While attending a college that was where I was really able to have more free choice. In High School, AP classes were where I was offered ‘diverse and more open-ended contexts and construct new meaning through free choice learning.’ For the first time, I was able to create something that was personal to me that was something that I was interested in. And I had to be able to talk about why and answer those questions. I had to learn to take constructive criticism and use it to improve my work. I was never able to be a part of art education programs outside of school until I was in college.
The first real connection that left the largest impact on me would be Global Book Hour. Global book hour was at a Wegman’s in Buffalo. It was through the Elementary Reading Department. GBH is a program that creates connections for kids that include: geography, vocabulary, music, visual arts. Every week was a different area of the world. The activities that we planned with the reading department focused on traveling to a different party place. Program attendees would be provided with a healthy snack that was also connected to the location and provided by Wegmans. Children, as well as parents, were invited to attend. It was about an hour long. The program is facilitated by an undergraduate and graduate students at Buffalo State College. It started out I was just tagging along with a friend that dormered at Buffalo State. Before long I was picking up the books for the month, planning lessons and attending with my son.
Before attending Buffalo State I was extremely lacking in the diversity department. So attending Buffalo State alone was getting me outside of what I was experiencing before. Global Book Hour was an indescribable experience that I would have never received had I not gone outside of Buffalo State College walls. It was something that my son was able to experience. Global Book Hour taught me about so many different cultures and places that I had not had exposure to before this. It was so exciting to see where we were going next week, how we would create a lesson that would tie into it. And what snack we would be eating!!. The thing I loved must be all of the people. Everyone was so kind and came from so many different backgrounds. The Kids and the parents loved learning about the different places around the world we usually always had someone that had a personal connection in some way and would share. So many great things happened at GBH. Jess the person I had mentioned that is now a part of Locust Street in Buffalo was a part of Global Book Hour.
These readings are leaving me feeling pretty inspired. The first few lines written by Green and Kindseth made me think of GBH and how ‘quality arts learning can be a vehicle for personal transformation.'(2011,p.337). GBH taught me how I could use my art room and the arts can be a vehicle for the students in my classroom. These reading are inspiring because they seem to keep pointing me back to when teaching was very filling when I was working with other artists and members of the community to create and be a part of some really meaningful experiences. Which makes me strongly agree with Arnold’s statement that ‘Business and educational groups can team together to strengthen communities and work to give students of all ages a great sense of unity and belonging.’ (1994,p47). These reading are getting me pretty excited to see what my fieldwork will bring.
Arnold, A. (1994). Building community through art experiences. Art Education, 47(3), 47-51.
Davis, J.H. (2010). Learning from examples of civic responsibility: What community-
based art centers teach us about art education. Journal of Aesthetic Education, 44(3), 82-95.
Hsieh, K. (2012). Students’ Constructed Narratives in After-School Art Projects. Art Education,
Green and Kindseth, A. (2011). Art all day: Distinction and interrelation of school-based
and out-of-school arts learning. Studies in Art Education, 52(4), 337-341.
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